Programming note: Imagine that you have a disease, but no one, not even your doctor, can tell you what it is. Where do you turn? Meet the doctors-turned-detectives who try to solve the rarest medical mysteries. Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells you why it's about more than saving lives on an AC360° special investigation at 10 ET tonight.
(CNN) - Tucked away on the sprawling campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, an elite team of doctors, specialists and researchers are in search of clues to solve mysteries no other doctor could solve.
They’re detectives for a one-of-a-kind initiative at National Institutes of Health. It’s called the Undiagnosed Diseases Program or UDP. Together, the UDP's team focuses its vast expertise on trying to save patients' lives and creating new science. Dr. William Gahl is the clinical director of NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute and is also the Undiagnosed Diseases Program’s lead investigator.
“The mission is really two-fold,” Gahl says. “One is to try to get to a diagnosis for people who have struggled for so long to achieve a diagnosis – of course there all kinds of benefits to that. The second is to discover new diseases or new aspects of known diseases so we can help the entire community of individuals with related disorders.”
Related video: Gupta goes inside medical mystery ward
For many people with mysterious conditions that have eluded doctors around the country, the UDP is their last hope for a diagnosis.
“We try and be realistic about it and get our patients to be realistic about the issues too,” Gahl says. “So the first day of a typical visit, I’ll go in and tell the patients, ‘You’ve been to the best places in the country, now you’re coming here. We only have a 10 to 15 percent success rate. So I don’t want you to get your hopes up really too, too high.’ But on the other hand, we don’t want to take all hope away.”
Filed under: 360° Radar
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